On July 18 we talked about injuries that commercial fishermen typically suffer. One of these injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an inflammatory disorder that affects the hands and fingers.
After repeated use and strain- such as ripping out a fish’s gills- the median nerve of the hand is compressed. This can lead to limited range of motion and pain in the fingers and hands.
Carpal tunnel pain happens when the median nerve is compressed as it passes over the carpal bones at the front of the wrist. People with carpal tunnel feel tingling, numbness, or burning in their hand and fingers.
Exercises to help ease strain and pain
While not a cure-all or substitute for a visit to your doctor, these three stretches have been proven to help.
1. Shake, shake it out. Hold your hands out in front of you and shake them.
2. Stop! Make two fists out in front of you. Now raise your fingers to the ceiling as if you are telling someone to “stop!” Fan your fingers out. Then put them back together. Now gently pull the tips of your fingers on one hand back by using the other hand. Gently. repeat on the other hand. You should feel this underneath your forearm. Stop if it hurts.
3. Upside down pull: In the “stop” position turn both hands upside down, fingertips pointing to floor. Again, gently pull your fingertips back towards your body. We did say gently, no?
Do these stretches three times a day. If your hands or wrists ache at night try to shake them out.
Exercise and stretch often
Some jobs, such as typist, factory assembly line work and commercial fishing do have a much higher potential for causing repetitive use injury. By being aware of your body’s “ergonomics” and taking preventative measures- such as wrist exercises and stretches-you may be able to reduce your mild discomfort. More stretches can be found in this Web MD article.
Moderate carpal tunnel can sometimes be helped by a wrist splint. However, severe carpal tunnel syndrome typically requires surgery as the only truly effective way to relieve the compression, according to the Mayo Clinic.